The first day of any job is significant. The first day on my job as manager, the owner, Rich Baker, said something I still carry with me closely: “Your staff will be where most of your time goes. They’ll be your biggest struggle, but they’ll also be your greatest reward.”

Sue Smith, CBA Chairman

Maybe it was inexperience that kept me from fully understanding what Rich was trying to tell me. Management of the building and store operations were more than enough to comprehend on my first day. But, there was a deeper message that he wanted to convey. You see, I manage a store with someone else’s name on the door. That meant that I was now clearly a steward of his business. And managing his business meant stewarding his people with great care.

What does that look like? Peter Block, in his book Stewardship, gives the best definition: “The willingness to be accountable for the wellbeing of the larger organization by operating in service, rather than in control, of those around us” (emphasis mine).

This is a tall order. I like control! But isn’t it interesting that when you operate in a context of service, rather than control, you begin to see your ability to impact lives under your care? Intentionally connecting to my staff on a regular basis is where operating in service begins. Connecting to employees through prayer is also a powerful tool. This is a great place to hear the hearts of my staff, to share in their stories.


As a steward of my staff, I can guide them down a professional or personal path they may never have gone. Pushing them to operate outside of their comfort zone, to try new techniques, or maybe to show grace to another is part of stewarding employees that requires abundant attention. But the outcome is transformation and growth of their gifts.


Every employee brings specific personality traits and giftings to the table. Operating in service to my employees has shown me that I have a responsibility to use their strongest gifts. Allowing them to work in their gifting frees them up to genuinely be themselves. The passion for what they do then just flows out of them. In gratitude, they bring their best (and their heart) to the job every day.

I succeed and I fail every day at stewarding those in my care. I want them to be better for being here. Yes, Rich, it’s a struggle—and time consuming—but mostly a huge reward.